One of my treasures is Modern Priscilla Cook Book, One Thousand Recipes Tested and Proved at the Priscilla Plant (copyright 1924). It was my grandmother’s, and she was a wonderful cook.
Inside the front cover, she wrote out her eggless pumpkin pie recipe. The first ingredient, of course, is a pumpkin. I remember her well into the 1960s roasting and scraping out a large, heavy pumpkin every November when it was time to make the Thanksgiving pies.
Other times of the year, a can of Libby’s was just fine with her, but that one pie had to be truly from scratch.
I do not, however, remember her ever making the pie without eggs – and I don’t want to think about what that concoction must have been like. A pumpkin pie is a custard, after all. I suspect that alternative recipe came along either during the Depression or during the war. (Take your pick as to whether that would be World War I or World War II. She lived through both.)
I do have her “real” recipe, though, and in her honor, I am going to share it here. Anyone who has ever had it loved it. The secret? It’s not loaded down with spices. There’s a touch of cinnamon on top to give it a little color and some oomph, but that’s it.
Grandma B.’s Pumpkin Pie
- 2 cups pumpkin
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 ½ cups evaporated milk
(Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Garnish with pecan halves if you want to get really fancy.)
Pour into 9-inch pie shell.
Bake at 425 degrees F. for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake 45 minutes. Test – a knife blade should come out clean when it’s done.
So who was Priscilla? There’s a fabulous website hosted by the University of Western Florida called The Newstand, a project of the English Department there that endeavors to capture a snapshot of popular reading in the 1920s.
Modern Priscilla, according to the site, was a women’s magazine published in Boston between 1887 and 1930. It sounds interesting – every issue included articles on needlework as well as “everyday housekeeping.” My grandmother loved to do embroidery.
I just popped over to eBay (because I’m impulsive) and purchased a copy from 1916, my grandmother’s wedding year. When it comes, I’ll let you know what I find.
I’ll share more from the cookbook, too. Did you know that mushrooms used to be a luxury? So was chicken. The Modern Priscilla suggests substituting celery in recipes that call for mushrooms – and that, done right, tuna salad can be passed off as chicken salad!
Meanwhile, I hope you like the pumpkin pie. And may you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving.